For the beef:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon ground fennel seed

½ teaspoon caraway seeds, coarsely ground

kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper

two 2-1/2 pound beef butt tenderloins, excess fat trimmed (For a crowd, serve two partial tenderloins – request butt tenderloins at the meat counter – instead of one whole one. This way, there are no thinner tail ends and the roasts cook evenly.)

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil

4 ounces cremini mushrooms thinly sliced (1-3/4 cups)

¼ cup thinly sliced shallot

¼ teaspoon granulated sugar

kosher salt

3 large sprigs fresh thyme

1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns

one 750-ml bottle dry, hearty, red wine, such as Shiraz or Zinfandel

2 cups low salt beef broth

1 tablespoon flour

freshly ground black pepper



1. Season the beef. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, thyme, fennel, caraway, 1 tablespoon salt and 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper. Pat the tenderloins dry with paper towels and coat them with the spice mixture, using your hands to spread it evenly. It will sparsely cover the meat.

2. Make the sauce. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallot, sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the thyme, peppercorns and half the wine. Simmer briskly until the wine reduces and just covers the solids, 10 to 15 minutes (Remember, if your skillet is wider than 10 inches, or if you increase the flame above medium, the wine may reduce faster. Watch carefully). Add the remaining wine and reduce again until the wine just covers the solids, 10 to 12 minutes more. Add the beef broth and simmer until reduced by half about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve set over a 1 quart measuring cup, pressing lightly on the solids. If you have more than 1-1/2 cups, return the sauce to the pan and simmer until reduced to 1-1/2 cups.

3. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a 1 quart saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking often, until smooth and light beige in color about 1 minute. Slowly add the wine reduction, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Roast the beef. If you’ve seasoned the beef ahead of time, remove it from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about an hour before roasting. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375*.

5. Arrange the roasts on a flat rack on a large rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow roasting pan. Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 120*F for rare, 125*F to 130*F for medium rare, or 135*F for medium, 40 to 50 minutes.

6. Serve. If the sauce was made ahead, heat gently in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking a few times, until barely simmering.

7. Meanwhile, let the beef rest for 15 minutes before carving crosswise into thick slices. Slice only as much as you plan to serve right away (leftovers keep better unsliced). Spoon the sauce over each serving or pass at the table.

NOTE: The beef can be seasoned with the spice rub up to 36 hours ahead. Put it on a rimmed baking sheet or platter, loosely cover with plastic, and refrigerate. The sauce may be made up to 2 days ahead. Cool to room temperature before storing it airtight in the refrigerator.

Any leftovers are delicious sliced thin on toasted soft rolls smeared with mayonnaise blended with horseradish and topped with a few sprigs of watercress.



from Fine Cooking Magazine, issue 114

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